A sign of hope for the DRC

5 January 2017

The new political agreement signed in Kinshasa by opposition leaders and the party of President Kabila at the end of 2016 is greatly welcomed by the Socialist International as a sign of hope and as a potential first step towards bringing reconciliation and peace to a country that has, for so long, been subject to internal divisions, political instability and conflict.

Following the expiry of President Kabila’s term of office on 19 December 2016 and the absence of new elections, Congo saw a resumption of civil unrest and renewed violence on the streets. On 19 and 20 December alone, more than forty people were killed, shot by security forces.

This new agreement provides a framework for the organisation of presidential, legislative, national and provincial elections by December 2017, in which President Kabila will not then seek another term of office, and for an interim government of national unity with a Prime Minister to be named from among the opposition. There is also agreement on the creation of a transitional body for overseeing the accord, the Conseil National de Suivi de l’Accord (CNSAP), which will be headed by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, president of the UDPS, an SI member party.

As negotiations proceed in regard to the details of the agreement, including the composition of the CNSAP and of the transitional government; on the practical arrangements and the political roadmap ahead, international support and encouragement for this process is crucial. A prompt implementation of the agreement is vital for its success and any attempt to thwart or delay any part of it must be avoided.

The international community must also be ready to assist as needed in the practical organisation of the elections to be held later this year. The Socialist International stands ready to support all efforts to this end, underlining at the same time that there can be no true democracy without freedoms and rights or where numerous political prisoners continue incarcerated and other citizens are forced to live in exile.

The Socialist International extends its recognition to all parties to this agreement, as well as to the mediators from Congo’s Roman Catholic Church, the Conférence Episcopal Nationale du Congo (CENCO) who facilitated the dialogue, and calls on the remaining opposition parties who have thus far abstained, to join this national initiative in order to ensure a successful peaceful transition of power in the DRC, in what would be the first since its independence in 1960.